Sunday, 30 June 2013

BC Bike Race Day 1

Nice night of camping save for some dog serenading the world at 3am. I got two amazing zonked out sleeps at Tania's house, and this was decent but it cooled off quite a bit so I had to dig out warmer clothes. Great breakfast, little warmup ride... and it was hot and humid already at 9am. Bakke bakes in the heat, and I was dripping before start. Uh oh...

So despite Drew being cordial and actually announcing that I was part of start block one, I tried another strategy for once. I started in the second one, and the guys hit the pace like nobody's business on the pavement and gravel. There was a sketchy peloton wipeout. Guys were either superhuman, or had no intent to pace well... and as it turns out, most were in the latter category. I drafted and rode with Tamara from the Yukon. Highlight of the day - I know the corner where we turn into the singletrack. So I pulled out, carved the gravel corner, and headed off into the trails solo. In the shade. I could hear the bottleneck mayhem behind right away over the first few wet roots. And bam... I'm in a happy zone. Riding solo, shady singletrack, completely open to me (3 minute space between groups). It's like I'd died and gone to heaven.

By the climb, I'd caught some blow ups from the first group. The climb was exposed sun, hot and humid. I've got a heavier bike that's high on fun, but obviously doesn't aid me up the hills like a 20lb Cannondale flash. So I slug it out. And drink, and eat. Riding smart. Some guy blows by, and says "get on my wheel". I say I'm happy at this pace. 30 minutes later he was cramping at the top. I talked to the Mexicans who are loving the temps. Put my gloves back on through the aid station and hit the downhill. Negotiated a few passes, people are reluctant. I just say I promise I won't slow you down, but some actually asked why I thought I was faster. I just said I've had my brakes on for last minute at your pace. Funny.

Few big wipeouts around me. Some of the exposed rocks are wet and have clay film on them - it might as well have lightweight silicone grease. Apparently even Wade Simmons bit it hard.

By the exposed logging cuts I was slowing down and battling heat. I paced, kept moving, rode harder in the shade. Trish caught and passed me on Buggered Pig climb, which was roasting and sun exposed. She was going like twice as fast, I admired her awesomeness and wanted to get off and sit in the shade. I turned pedals instead of lying in the creek, cause it's fairly short and the trees are right after.

All in I was about 10 minutes slower and one place lower than last year (so 30th today), which is a huge save given my heat challenges. Pat and Trish were at the finish, and noticed I was covered in goose bumps. Time for shade and more hydration. Pat said his car said 29C in a mostly shady parking spot. Everyone would have dehydrated today, I guess that's obvious as you don't really gain moisture riding, but question was just how much and could you avoid cramping.

Trish did awesome and was third, despite people not letting her pass on singletrack. We're gonna work on her aggressive voice! At least now she can just say she's a podium woman and hopefully get some respect.

My legs don't feel too bad, I couldn't push them, cooling system was the governor today. I'm on my second bowl of amazing spicy thai soup at the Wandering Moose in Cumberland. Thai's are used to the heat, so maybe it'll help. Two old guys next to me are talking about trying to get their 8 tracks working... wow.

I fell asleep on concrete after snacking - with two panting dogs. That's the antidote for tired + hot.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

BC Bike Race Day 0

Ryan Leach - you're awesome - I've had the chance to see you ride in person twice now, and am ultimately impressed every time.

They did a "everybody stand up" then sit down if this is your first BCBR. 90% sat down. Two - only like 6 standing. 6th? Two people. Interesting how it's drawing a fresh audience. That's a lot of new people experiencing BC mountain biking.

BCBR guys - your intro videos are great for people who are new to this - clear as can be.

It's so relaxing. Commute out to race start. Park sitting. Chatting. Watching people who have mad skills at frisbee, which to me is a bit symbolic of not being too stressed in life (I don't seem to find enough free time to do frisbee with beer in hand sessions enough to hone my skills). Honestly I've never seen frisbee done that well. Like, if you can turn your back when the frisbee is nearing you, do the little Michael Jackson dance step since MJ is on the boom box, and catch it no look behind you, you've gotta be in an office less than me.

It's weather like this that really reminds you how the west coast is one of the nicest places on earth.

The Calgary corporate crowd are out, Pat and Trish, had a nice conversation with Drew Brag. Haven't seen Timmy from New Jersey in ages, he's here. Scott from TransAndes, as well as the Gypsy Wagon guys are doing Mongolia. Australian Claire.

I'm excited for tomorrow. Great weather, great trails. Just no spinning yet as bikes are on truck, oh well.

Friday, 28 June 2013


Walk along the north shore this afternoon with Gabby and Trish (and Tania, Oliver and Winston)!

Lounging West Vancouver

Going to register shortly, lounging with my buddy Winston.

BC Bike Race 2013

With business trying to get done, the Ride to Conquer Cancer buildup, then the Calgary floods grinding everything to a halt, I haven't even had time to think of BC Bike Race on the horizon until packing started on a day and a half ago.  I'm now officially excited.  A week of the most fun trails going, with the BC coast's lack of bugs, and just food, sleep and bike has me really looking forward to it.  To me its also the best skills camp you can fit into 7 days of "xc racing".

Last year I went in only a few weeks post a shoulder dislocation.  My fitness was therefore a bit lower, my ability to push downhill speeds was quite low.  I put on a 950g tire after the first day as the mud sketched me out, and my healing shoulder just wanted to feel planted.  A big Specialized El Capitain had me at maximum traction, but pushing it was harder.

This year I'm going suspension - the nicest riding full suspension I've ever owned.  I'm monkeying with tire choices.  I'm pumped as they're doing wave starts, something which I pestered them on last year as being the perfectly feasible technology solution to the logjams experienced at some points. 

Unlike most events, I've got a solidly defined goal for this outing, beyond the usual have fun and enjoy:  place even or better than my age.  Last year I was 39th overall. Ha!

The first day was my highest relative place last year (29th), and that was with a fall in the fern forest in Cumberland when a guy went down in front of me, a solid feeling climb, then a weak weak descent where, among other things, Wendy Simms passed me like I was standing still.  In test runs on the Pivot out at Moose Mountain, I'm feeling a bit like the days of old downhill - time won't be lost downhill this year.  That thing soaks it up, I'm planning on running enough tire to keep it planted and fun, but basically hit the downhills at bobsleigh velocity.  Bam!

Reminding myself:
- I've been riding, so I don't expect to feel soreness everywhere and in the hole after day 1, where last year I felt shredded head to toe. 
- On a smoother machine, which hopefully will help reduce overall body fatigue a bit through the week.  Last year my back was frozen, my arms were mush from oversupporting a shoulder, etc. 
- Keeping it upright will avoid the shoulder scares, there's no way statistcally I should go down the first three days in a row like last year.  Especially the bent derailleur hanger and associated faffing around on day two, where using Wendy as my reference point as we're 95% of the time within 5 minutes of each other, usually less, I was 15 minutes down.
- Bullet the downhills to make up for a few pounds of extra bike on the way up.  The cruising speed of that bike on flat singletrack is easy to ratchet higher cause its comfy.  It's just more to push.
- Pace smart like a guy who's ridden 20 stage races.  Incentive to absolutely push it and burn out at the start is reduced with the staging.  They don't say how far apart the 50 (or 100 some days) waves are, but even a minute amount is going to just make sense.  Riding full threshold might make up a minute, but bonking knocks off 15.  Keep in mind the uneven payoff structure.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Parts of Downtown

Wettening up.

Flood pics 2

For comparison to the submerged 4th street bridge, here is how it was about 4pm yesterday. Plus some unfortunate parkades, intersections. You can see the height of the berm in the construction pic relative to the Hitachi hoe.

City of Calgary Berms were worth it!

Water right up to top. Elbow drive and 4th street bridge submerged.

Mountain Biking Impediments

Don't plan on mountain biking in Bragg Creek or Canmore anytime soon.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Calgary Floods

We're outside both the City's afternoon double notice on areas of evacuation, and the third one posted around dinner. 5th street is actually the border to one. They're building a berm by Safeway (it'd actually be a win if that old thing was damaged enough to justify rebuilding), and 6th street is part of the lower lying 100 year flood plain. Regardless, we spent 20 mins moving things - elevator makes it easy - that we wouldn't want to go months until replacements could be arranged. Di2 bikes and floods don't seem like they'd mix well, a pressure washer we figured would be handy for cleanup if it did flood, sleeping bag for BC Bike Race, the basics. Makes it easy to clean the garage floor tomorrow which we should have done anyway soon.

4th street is higher yet, so we retreated to the safety of Anejo for armageddon dinner.

Highlight was a bunch of hipsters in their requisite skinny jeans going for beers wearing life vests.

Elbow Drive berm at about 4pm.

Elbow Drive berm at about 8pm.  Just after this they started covering it with plastic.  Really efficient flow of dump trucks lined up - they're really going at this hard.  Kudos to the city.
4th Street Bridge at 8pm.  Up notably since our 4pm stroll.
We're on the border of the evacuation area.  Still, we spent 20 minutes moving cars, bikes, other things are out of the garage.  

Tuesday, 18 June 2013


If you've ever wondered if you were alone in applying the "bike filter" to everything you see and do, you aren't alone.  Legendary Danny McAskill's been doing that since he was a kid... Imaginate!

Craig in Butte Montana at The Outdoorsman bike shop

In the spirit of the Tour Divide, I picked up the phone yesterday for a complete cold call into The Outdoorsman in Butte when Craig appeared to be just a few hours away up in the mountains.  A very nice individual picked up the phone, whose name I only learned later on email was Kelley Mattingly.  I started a brief explanation that could have been interpreted as "Canadian stalker", but was quickly understood as club mate, friend, and superfan of Craig Stappler.  I mentioned that I thought he'd be in within a half day to the shop, and what does an awesome bike shop on the Tour Divide route say to that?  "We think he'll be in sooner, we've been watching his dot all morning."  Awesome.  Sometimes what makes the world great is people who give a sh-t for just a couple minutes.

After that exchange, I relayed my reason for the call.  I know Craig can't accept incoming calls, free support, or that type of thing, so I simply requested "can you take like a cell phone picture of Craig and just peck out a line or two of what your conversation is with him so the club, his friends, his family at home get another tidbit datapoint of how he's doing?".  Sure they could!

And last but not least - what was the in person quote that Kelley provided along with the video: "Craig wasn't around for long so I didn't get to shoot much. The man is superhuman!!!"

Here's the result.  Thanks so much Kelley and the Outdoorsman!

Monday, 17 June 2013

Bike "cages" in buildings

Hooper shared the spectacular glory of his building's bike accomodations here.  I thought I had it relatively good up till that point, as we have triple security (garage door, cage door, my lock) and showers, admittedly though the showers are our own firm's doing. This looks great.  New buildings should have more of this instead of afterthought corner options somewhere!

morning idiocy

I started my morning with some 6:45 commute witness to idiocy. It's almost humorous at times, but it's also a sad state of affairs on an early morning when people should have their thinkers turned on.

Event one: I come up to a stop light, curb lane for me. Next block up has a parked car on it that effectively ends the lane, and is likely going to get towed soon. Center lane has a tan Nissan Murano pull up first to the light. Next to me, pulls up a gleaming white Porsche 911 Turbo. So I assume the Porsche is going to use that next 100m of lane to accelerate and slide over into the other lane to pass the parked car. If I were driving a Murano, I could see this too. However, Nissan Murano driver pins it off the line. Timing or fan belt squeals, there's lots of noise, and a little acceration. Porsche takes note, blips the throttle for all of about 1.5 seconds, which creates a relatively calm roar gets it up to like 70km/h in a blink of an eye, and the outcome that was destined to happen happens anyway - the Porsche calmly slides into the center lane, passes the parked car, and goes back to the curb lane, without looking dishevelled or breaking a sweat. The Nissan driver looks irate at the next lights. Irate at what? That his car couldn't out drag a 911 Turbo? That the lane use in that fashion was so logical? Or perhaps that he always wanted a 911 Turbo, and this just brought it that much closer to the surface of his conscious of not having one?

Second event: at the next block, we crossed a one way westbound, so traffic coming from the right. But there was no traffic, other than a dude on a bike. Loafers, no helmet, ipod in, old school road bike with a ultra stretched chain that was droopy. He saw no cars coming, but apparently he didn't see me, and just wheeled the corner and saw me only at the last second when he was joining my direction like a meter and a half in front of me. Next red light, he slows, weaves traffic and proceeds to cross. I catch up, and tell him "we're all in this together, and it helps if everyone follows traffic rules on bikes". He quips back "thanks boss", which of course is what I'd roughly expect for spouting off some free advice. We proceed, and next cross street is the train tracks. He starts weaving out, not capable of pulling off a track stand, not yet ready to go. Starts to go, chain skips, he sort of lunges forward but seems to avoid the balls to the stem move. I pass smoothly and say "you've got headphones in, no helmet, a malfunctioning bike, and aren't following traffic rules, you couldn't be doing this any worse if you tried... just remember the consequences of failing out here aren't getting a D on a test, they're worse." No response. I wonder if any of that will sink in. For the greater motoring perception of cyclists, and for this guy's longevity, I hope it does. I'm glad he's taken step one and got on a bike before 7am, but there's a few additional steps needed.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Breakthrough Cycling Weekend

I witnessed a couple real breakthroughs this weekend that were so nice to see.  Saturday was our offices Ride to Conquer Cancer team's "week before" ride which half a dozen people made it out for, and 3 of which made it home dry.  We met at Cadence, went up through the northwest, and in on TWP 262 to Cochrane.  Beauty view the whole way, only drawback was one regroup corner where we stopped there were hoards of mosquitos out.  One had turned back earlier just on a time commitment, and two other ladies turned back at the top of Cochrane hill, which ended up keeping them dry.  Dan, Val and I went down for coffee first, and saw a bunch of guys from spin classes doing their weekend rides.  We got pummelled on the way back with cold rain, but were fine as two of us had gear, and Dan just thinks differently.  Val is a machine this year!  Zippy on the climbs and flats.  It really felt like a breakthrough to see her riding so well.

Fathers day Sunday Cindy and I got out of town a bit late after some soccer store stops, but made it out to Station Flats at 1.  Rode Tom Snow as little as possible and Ridgeback as much as possible to Moosepackers, then down Special K, back up to Ridgeback and all the way back in on that.  4h round trip with a little side detouring.  Saw two CFO clients out there, which is a great place to get little office updates.  Too bad we can't schedule those for midweek.  Cindy was doing awesome on the climbs, even the steep technical parts, and did great on the downhill too.  Even when we seperated to "giver" for little bits, we'd never be more than 30 seconds apart.  Wow.  These trails are now within her grasp easily, and are fun to see the outdoors and mountains more than they are "obstacles".  That's transformational.  She had so much fun, and now mountain bikes in a way that it's super fun - terrain just disappears below and she rides, no parts other than virtually unrideable switchbacks made her dismount.  The Pivots just soak up the terrain, so we were making great time on the singletrack cruising along.  Her race season has been good, her fitness is there, and now when you can do a big 4h loop at Moose Mountain and not worry about any terrain, instead just devouring it for the fun of it, you're a real deal mountain biker.  All smiles all the way to the car after our rest stop at the bench lookout on Ridgeback.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Test of Metal

Kate Aardal 2nd... Man everyone's just slaying it lately! Great job Kate!

Saturday evening Craig and Mike photos just north of Colombia Falls, Montana

Original post here.

I've copied the photos and post here as I'm not sure that the pictures show up for people unregistered on the bike packing forums:

From user threepin, 5:32 Calgary time Saturday:

Craig passed my driveway at 4:20 pm today, Mr Hall at 5:00 pm
Craig said he was feeling "ok", Mike said he was having problems w/the dust- it rained yesterday so the dust should not have been too bad. What a difference  a year makes, last year they came by early afternoon Sunday in a drizzle in the high 30's, this year mostly sunny and 75.

Erik: my take is the both look good.  Mike looks happy.  Craig looks like he's got his game face on, bulging quads, and a front wheel blurred in the photo.  Awesome!

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Pivot Mach 429 review part 2

As a follow up to the Pivot Mach 429 first rides, here's some updates after putting some miles into it.

First, that bottle cage issue.  This frame has so much custom shaping from what would appear to be extensive engineering and design work, and for it's boutique brand price, not having enough millimeters to functionally use a water bottle is a gross oversight.  Its just not acceptable.  A 750ml bottle straight up doesn't fit.  A smaller bottle will fit, but is usable only with one of those side entry style cages.  That's exactly the reason things are drawn up in AutoCAD or whatever bike designers use, and is entirely unacceptable for a product of this supposed design spec.  If you're a CamelBak'er, no problem.  If not, be forewarned.

On to the positives...  What continues to impress is the longitudinal stiffness, the smoothness over terrain, the plush without mush feeling.  My suspended riding history is Turner (the Horst link designs), Specialized (basically the same 4 bar), Cannondale (soft tail) mostly.  Each have their pros and cons.  Suspension performance wise, this beats all.  Same with longitudinal rigidity.  Weight wise, partly due to it being stiffer with bigger wheels so there needs to be more material to keep it stiff and reach back to the hub, it gives some up.  The three settings of the Fox forks/shocks are not unique to this frame, but this frame uses them well.  They transform the bike from taught climber to plush downhiller, within the confines of what 4" of travel and 29er wheels can do.  The 2.25" Nobby Nic I've elected for up front is consistent with the performance of the suspension - feels not under or over the capability of the rest of the bike in delivering traction.

Beautiful bike if you understand the water bottle issue.

Addendum: so I was actually challenged on this claim, without providing pictures.  Here's the pics.  Note this is a Specialized side entry style cage, and I have jerry rigged it by a few millimeters.  I'm now reasonably happy, one of those mid size bottles (two actually if you use the lower cages and swap them) makes using this for long rides or stage races actually feasible.  So if you're willing to do so, you can attain an adequate result.  Three test bottles.  Small, medium, large.

Fit of small is fine.

Fit of medium is just possible down to the nanometer, by jerry rigging the mount by drilling out the cage a bit.  Keep in mind, you're going to be retrieving/replacing bottles while riding, and presumably not smooth trails with this bike.  Now possible, even adequate, but not ideal.

Large doesn't fit.  Photo doesn't really show depth well, but essentially this bottle is protruding to the right of center by a couple inches as obviously its bumping up against the shock adjuster.

Lastly, I've now just tried to supplement with the lower bottle mount this morning.  Only a small even fits to start, but the small is within the front wheel travel path, so that is entirely and completely useless. Pivot guys what on earth were you thinking?

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Tour Divide time!

Craig is off again tomorrow, with a great preamble here from the Calgary Herald.  Here's the CBC morning talkshow interview.

Off on what you say?  The Tour Divide.  It's a bike race from Banff to Mexico, along the continental divide, that's longer than the Tour de France, on mountain bikes and gravel roads, without team cars or massages or hotels every night or fast wheel changes or chef prepared dinners... in less time. It's like the hardcore stuff of legends, like when you see those turn of century Tour de France photos.

Here's the links I use to track the race, as information isn't spoon fed to us like NFL Sunday.  To me, that's what adds to its romance.  Maybe these help others follow it more easily:

- Track progress via the "top right" leaderboard link on the Tour Divide site, or leaderboard direct link here, or specifically Craig's position here.  Race "flow" or a bit of a pace graph here, which I use to look at differing paces of riders to gauge if they're in contact especially when the spot trackers are on different position confirmation times.
- Here's a link to the western US weather site, which can be zoomed to provide quite up to date regional detail, as well as northwest and southwest radar imagery.
- Vectorized US wind map here - neat, and might give a feel for what riders face.
- forum re: Pre-Tour Divide '13 is here, Race Tracking Tour Divide '13 forum here.
- Recorded message call ins from riders here.

Tune in and enjoy.  Why? 
- A hometown hero is better than TV any day. 
- There's a positive rate of energy transfer from eyeballs on the blue dot to the rider... really. 
- You're probably going about your next couple weeks as you've done with many hundreds of weeks prior, not quite being able to pull the plug and engage in epic adventures yourself (err, myself).  But through modern technology, we've never been able to live vicariously with such ease!

Craig you're a living legend with a fire in your belly that sitting on the couch doesn't quench.  Good luck!

Station Flats Wednesday after work

First time this year I got in a midweek mountain bike ride, and man would more of that be nice. Dry trails. The magical grip of a 2.25" Nobby Nic. Suspension. Although the bear that watched me go by from 20' off the trail about 100 yards before this photo seemed happy with just his evening hillside snacks instead of dw-link suspension setups.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Tour Divide party

Craig and crew are leaving for Banff tomorrow, so this is the sendoff. This could be the highest aerobic capacity bar crowd Moose McGuires has ever seen. Looking around, I'm so impressed at both what Craig is taking on, but also how he's helped others doing it pre-start. Not to mention that everyone in the room has an amazingly successful and interesting cycling palmares!

Japanese Bicycle Parking

I've only been to Japan once, and visiting Tokyo was like visiting the Jetsons.  They're just so impressively saturated in applied technology.  Naturally, they're the ones to take bike parking to a whole new level.  Amazing!

Monday, 10 June 2013

Carl Strong travel cyclocross bike v 3.0

This has been one of my longest serving and favourite frames over the years.  Version 1 had a carbon 'cross fork and cantilever brakes front and back, version 2 traded those brakes in for long reach calipers that worked for up to 35mm 'cross tires and including fenders plus a ti fork, and now v3 has disc brakes and  Di2 internal wiring, inclusive of an internal battery.  Specifically, disc tabs welded on the front and rear fork, prior cable guides gone, full Di2 wiring internal to the frame, including a junction at the lower coupler so it's super easy to take apart and pack, and the battery in the seat post.  My goal with the internal is to draw the frame appreciater's eye more to the frame itself than the associated cable clutter.  In addition to the Di2 modifications, a new wheel set was added as well.  Lastly the rear triangle was widened to 135mm.  Charging is just done via the little junction under the stem, where there's a receptacle that takes the charger plug.  It's really all quite amazing.

Titanium frames, especially from custom builders, may appear expensive at first glance.  However, for a couple hundred dollars at a time, this has evolved well past its original spec, making it relevant and useful today, instead of becoming dated.

It's just as solid as the day it started.  The modifications are of excellent workmanship, it's impossible to tell for example where the cable guides used to be on the downtube.  You can point to where you think they'd be, but really there's no visible marking.

Di2 needs no further review, it's incomparable for exterior drive train shift performance.  I've learned the two tuning functions to set it up right, have the stops dialed in well, and it just bangs off flawless shifts in no time flat.  The overshift then bring the derailleur back to center is amazingly effective.

I had hoped for the Shimano CX disc brake calipers, but sounds like they're a bit on backorder over the summer, so here are the Avid BB7's.  They work, they adjust easy, yet I think the shimano has a cleaner look with the smaller, silver caliper and also they seem to have more stopping power.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Organ Grinder

Well, we sort of tried. Not as much as Devin, who posted the big ol' W! Awesome for him.

It started raining about half way through the first lap. First half of first lap was my warm up, I felt faster on second half and more alive. Roots got slick, sort of fun/challenging.

Half way into lap 2, I caught a guy on a wide ski trail before some single track. He was coasting and drinking from camel back. I was cruising along, called that I'd just go around on left to drop into single track. He sped up last second to get in, leaving me to head for the bushes. Really?

First lap my rear tire was softening a bit, now my front tire was joining. After burping some front air on a descent, I topped them both up with a CO2. My chain was coming off my lower derailleur pulley wheel and rubbing the cage and sort of catching - first 1.5 laps I monkeyed with it 3x. I'd put it back on, but was envisioning a wrapped around ruined derailleur the way it was periodically catching. The two tires and the derailleur thing were about as positive as the intensifying rain. I cut the half lap to go to pit, used the pump, looked at derailleur, got cold and soaked in the rain, and realized that was it for my day.

Cindy helped her friend fix a flat on the first lap, and also decided this type of weather isn't her cup of tea.

When we left, it was raining, and the car thermometer said 8.5C. Sometimes I thive in that. Sometimes I hope summer is just around the corner. When the sun came out it did perk up pretty quick to palatable temps.

I'm lamenting the last few weeks of racing, I'm higher on the excuses list than I'd prefer to be. I've replaced a full drivetrain, maybe I should do that more in advance. Maybe I shouldn't overlook pulley wheels too. Maybe I should just man up. Ugh.

Long season left with 3 more stage races.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Iron Maiden XC

Beautiful day in Canmore for racing - great trails, nice temperatures, dry trails.

Few spots on the trails had options for harder or easier lines. I love that kind of thing.

The start was straight up hill, which I tried to survive. My plan was to use all the optional lines to minimize time loss. But that's a bit false as every elite uses all of them. Shoot. Plan B was to use little brakes everywhere else, including all the jumps on soft yogurt. That part worked. In the grand scheme, I had a good day, no bike issues and didn't leave anything on the table. Only issue was first lap I had an off the bike screw up behind a few other guys then had to run up a hill. What I didn't need was a 10 second "penalty" and a heart rate spike on the first lap...

Anyway, that gave me a fun time on all the tech sections to make back seconds. I try. But it's hard to pull my weight up the hills. So I plug along, eventually reel in a couple guys, pass one but the other uses second wind and takes off. So I was last, but not last. Last DNF'd, but I don't know if he threw in the towel after old me passed, or if a mechanical cropped up. I'm happy with today, and I'm a value player in the ABA - I get the most on course time for my fees!  I had a good time up the final lap stadium climb chuckling at all the deadgoats who cheered, and commandeered the announcers mic, to urge me to "just try harder".  Classic.

Bunnin2 had good days (little B's birthday, big B in 2nd overall).

Cindy had a great day except for a chain shift into spokes, which she pulled out. But she won smile award, and had a good race overall.

Helmet Safety, Bicycling Magazine's June 2013 edition

I've always been a proponent of wearing helmets. Our noggins embody a lot of valuable stuff. I had generally stopped my thinking though at "wearing one all the time" on a bike. Witnessing the different looking POC helmets, or watching NFL/NHL debates didn't spark additional thinking. Cycling doesn't have the repetitive hits those sports do, but it does have the potential for large impacts.

I've now had the opportunity to read Bicycling Magazine's June 2013 article on this. Great job. It still is journalism, and even if its investigative, doesn't give me the perspective of a brain engineer (ha ha) on the subject. I respect copyright, but if ever an article should be freeware for the benefit of humans, this would be a good one. Get your hands on a copy, or find it online. I'll summarize some points.

The good thing is - bicycle use, trips, and commuter traffic is all increasing on decade long statistical measures, while death and injury isn't increasing at the pace of growth. Great.

Helmets you buy in bike stores meet legal standards. Those standards haven't changed in a long time. They are focused on perpendicular, linear, single shocks. That's good. It prevents your skull from cracking.

Skulls cracking and severity of concussion, which is in some ways worse and longer debilitating, isn't really correlated. Nothing in current helmet design really is designed to reduce concussive injury.

The highest liklihood of concussion involves rotational stresses, vs. direct impacts. Heads at the end of a spine is like a flap at the end of a flyswatter - whippy and acceleration prone. Woodpeckers don't get concussions, and on slow motion analysis, are observed to have developed perfectly linear (and force limited) strike paths. Interestingly as well, 60's studies on monkeys, researchers "couldn't induce concussion from linear blows, only from rotational accelerations". Nobody said research was pretty back then.

Measuring, testing devices, and standards don't exist for this aspect of helmet design. Standards bodies who need to adhere as well to economic principals to not abuse industries with cost burden make it unlikely standards will change. Secondly, helmet manufactures who add words like "concussion reducing" or totally separate topic, multi impact use, basically are penalized for this through becoming magnets for class action litigators who make livings by reading new features in helmet ads, waiting for an injury to occur contradictory to what the design improvement is meant to address, then suing. Cannondale and others have found that out. Awful.

But we have self will to preserve, and the internet. If, and that's your choice, you want to increase your head's protection, you kind of can. All hemets sold meet existing standards, so you can't do worse.

Rotative stress essentially can shear brain matter/structure/cells over a certain threshold, measured in a scientific unit. Video study of pro sports concussive injury makes estimates of ranges - above a threshold you're essentially guaranteed severe concussion, down to ranges where you're safe. 11,000 radians/second2 is downright awful, under 4,000 radians/second2 is "fine", middle is still concussion causing. Helmets can't prevent this. They can reduce, some can reduce the brain's exposure to those forces by several thousand of that unit, or call it 20-25%. Rotative, or impact reduction both spread out force over time and space to reduce its peak. Helmets that take this into consideration thus far mimic the brain's design of a layer of fluid between the brain and skull that stunts rotative energy in a variety of ways.

POC brand helmets offer an attempt at this that measurably addresses this type of impact. Scott has a 2013 design that does as well. Equestrian helmets have incorporated this. The Scott one is no heavier than a standard helmet. A real dumbed down statement is they have ways to slip internally from shell to head layer to absorb some of that force.

We spend lots of money on cool parts - light, functional, etc. Maybe allocate some extra to your next helmet. We don't crash much, but you will at some point. To be honest, I've never really banged my head in my life through skiing, snowboarding, biking, skateboarding - and all with a degree of "gusto" I'd add. But innovation that's no extra weight penalty, that's burdened by immovable bureaucracy and hindered by predatory legal action, is exactly the kind of innovation that I'd like to support. That's what the internet can help advance faster.

Read up. Consider a helmet that helps. There's not a lot of other products where I prefer the "minimum standard acceptable" as set, so why I do that in helmets is more just my lack of knowledge. I'm going to do a lot more research on my next one. You can purchase a directional improvement that you'll have to believe in. Swedish studies don't match US ones in measurement, but they show directional results that favor the claim of muting rotational force peaks. Neither is wrong, neither is "right". They are done my different equipment and different tests, but by active cyclist helmet designers who care about their heads and yours, and are trying to help.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Calgary fog

After a walk to work and massage yesterday, I did a bonus loop on my commute in today to flush out the legs a bit. Even made time to step out of the train of commuters to capture this... could hardly even see the river.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Deadgoat Giver8er

We woke to pouring rain, but by the time we got out to COP, it was dry. First 3 laps were dry, reasonably quick, then the rains came. 4th was a bit greasy but fun. Raining, wet, I was at a good temperature and like the slippery riding. The 5th was extremely difficult, bike started to really gum up and not work well, but we spent some time cleaning it in the pit, which was marvelous. The 6th was not bad as it was more runny from the downpour, I put on a rain coat and was fine. We came in for the 7th, and were told we had 46 minutes to do a lap as the race had been shortened for weather. That was around our average lap pace. Geoff Clark and I went out for one more lap, hammered it out as best we could, but it was a tough one to even stay mounted. So we missed the final lap cutoff by a minute, which was a hearbreaker. That lap was so little coasting, so much sliding, running hills, gummed up wheels, but full gas effort being the last one. Hardest conditions, let alone how hard we pushed. Clocking that last one would have got me a 2nd and first prize I've had in years, but oh well. 4th it is (funny how lap race enduro's can change so much based on that).

This weekend has been a great test of my new pressure washer that I impulse bought at Wal-mart a few weeks ago. For $275 this thing is a dirt annihilater. One spray of my red specialized insoles and they were this bright cherry red they haven't been in years. I have to be careful around bearings, I aim for more oblique shots there vs. perpendicular. It's fun, turn the nozzle for soap, blast rinse, and makes cleaning less of a chore. When we got home at 3:30 we figured if we both started organizing and cleaning hardcore we could be clean and relaxing by 4:30, but it's actually 5. That's 90 minutes of cleaning for 5.5h of riding.

It's days like this that make me wish I had a single speed still set up.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Andy Hampsten's S&S coupled road bike

As someone who owns and uses a couple different S&S coupled travel bikes, I'm oft asked for opinions and chatter on this topic when people decide riding their bike wherever they travel is right for them too.

If you're talking road bikes, here's my recommendation.  Everything is right about Andy Hamsten's bike.  First, you can tell a bike has street cred if it has your face, standing on the Giro podium, on a sticker on the seat tube.  Most of us can't do that, but we can at least follow design cues.

If you deviate from this, have good reason in your mind why you're doing so.  Without needing to justify his library of experience, everything he says is right about a bike to ride and travel with - so click through the pictures and contemplate.  Big tires, neutral geometry, solid build, that can go anywhere with you.  It's fad free, well crafted, and just right.

Deadgoat Summer Solstice

All the club efforts this week paid off today with a great event. Talk about a great day to be out riding... nice temps, mosquitoes seem to be hibernating, not to muddy, just tacky. Lots of people out and a great course.

The usual awesome riders rode awesome. Thomas Yip made his bb on his single speed sing (or scream if you were folllowing him), Shawn put down the power, Devin came out of retirement for an awesome result. Pat looked tough once his kit picked up an extra amount of trail on some event I didn't witness. Mark McConnell started un-wheezing after the asthama attack subsided, which was good. Shawna Donaldson and I, due to drop outs, manned a corner and cheered. Or when Kate came by we chatted, as she doesn't appear frazzled or out of breath at all.

Cindy did good till her quick release let her rear wheel out, and gears didn't work so hot. Apres race I pretended I was a mechanic and re set her hi/lo stops and cable tension as it was done lazy style from the shop with the barrel adjuster being relied on for all the initial adjustment.

I rode a half a lap. Chain starting skipping after a downhill which I didn't understand, it was fine on first climb. I shifted to ok gears, did a bunch more, then had the issue on steep climbs. I got passed when mucking around trying to see it. Pressed on. Pulled off to really check again.

Bunch of rear cogs bent. 3 identified by screws aiming at them in the photo. The worst is actually the 4 o'clock one as it's bent way in, making the second gear not work.  Plus one of those was bent so I couldn't use easiest three. I tried to bend them straight enough with a stick. By the time I figured it all out, I was way off and dejected. Hence the cheering section.

Upside was I had planned to put on a new drivetrain after the Giver8er, so I had stuff at home. When I had hoped to relax, I put on a cassette, chain, chainrings, removed and cleaned/tightened both crankarms, and discovered a siezed derailleur jockey wheel so found a donor one from another derailleur to get me through tomorrow. Also lubed cables and tuned a bit. So hopefully tomorrow better. Loc tite is drying and everything is lubed.

Maintenance is a constant game with privateer racing. I budget for it, and keep parts around. It's just hard to chuck stuff before it fails cause "worn" stuff always has the capacity to get in one more day. Oops.